Who's That in the Front Row? Designers Court Asian Stars, From CL to Kitty Zhang
The 10 talents from the East who are taking the fashion world by storm — scoring front-row seats at Chanel and Gucci and landing lucrative Louis Vuitton ad campaigns.
While there are the usual, recognizable suspects that take over the front rows at fashion week, there's always a few folks that leave us wondering: Who are you? And why is everyone asking to take your photo? So, we did some digging to get the scoop on the famous, non-Hollywood Asian stars that are scoring some of the best seats in the house. From South Korean actress Doona Bae, who serves as a muse for Louis Vuitton's Nicolas Ghesquière, to Chinese actress Zhang Yuqi, who sat front row at Gucci's show in Milan, here's a break down of the names you should know — and add to your Twitter and Insta feed, stat.
Born as Lee Chae-rin, girl band 2NE1’s leader is blazing the trail as a solo artist, with catchy crossover hits like "The Baddest Female," which peaked at No. 4 on the K-pop Hot 100 and entered the U.S. iTunes chart at No. 75. Being managed by Scooter Braun, whom looks after Justin Bieber and Karlie Kloss, and counting Moschino’s Creative Director Jeremy Scott as a close pal doesn’t hurt, either. She’s been seated front and center at Alexander Wang, Givenchy and Jean Paul Gaultier. Vogue also recently recognized CL, who boasts 3.8 million followers on Instagram, as the "breakout beauty star" of New York Fashion Week. That being said, she's always been recognized for her flawless features in Korea as she starred in a Lancome campaign in 2011.
The multi-talented Taiwanese television host, actress, and singer — she recently announced she’d be wrapping hosting duties of her hugely popular talk show after 12 years — turned heads in Milan at the much talked about Gucci show with her '70s inspired snake-embroidered tuxedo. The slick, center-parted hair, oversized specs, and big buckled belt completed the retro look. And to say she is adored is an understatement. Hsu has a whopping 37.8 million followers on Weibo, which is like China's version of Twitter.
As the lead singer of the Korean boy band, Big Bang, G-Dragon proves that guys can have trend fun with fashion, too. A modern muse of Karl Lagerfeld, he’s consistently one of the most snapped stars at Chanel’s shows. From a woman’s tweed jacket to the signature CC chain necklaces to an oversized fur hat, G-Dragon encourages his 8 million (and counting) fans on Instagram that life’s too short to not take some risks.
The influential stylist and blogger, who splits her time between Paris and Hong Kong, bounces between the biggest shows during Paris Fashion Week, like Dior, Chanel, and Balmain. Incredibly photogenic, Leung possesses the covetable chameleon-like ability to switch up styles and look radiant in them all. So instead of the clothes wearing her, she wears them with equal parts confidence and grace. (Google her, and you’ll see what we mean.)
Also known as Kitty Zhang, the Chinese actress played the lead in China’s biggest grossing movie, The Mermaid, which pulled $510 million at China's domestic box-office, raising her already megawatt star status even higher. After going through a very public divorce from director Wang Quan'an last year, she decided to take back the spotlight by sitting front row at Milan’s Gucci show in amber-tinted sunglasses and a suede-accented, logo-emblazoned, men’s trench coat.
The comparisons have been made to Alexa Chung, and for good reason. While the American-born, now Korea-residing fashionista has the physique of a runway model (and struts her stuff from time to time), she’s better known for being a brand ambassador, fashion influencer, and co-host for the popular style show K-Style. Designers love Kim’s risk-taking looks, rewarding her with front row status at DKNY, Chloe, Lanvin and Chanel.
Turns out that China’s first supermodel — she’s the first Asian face of Estee Lauder, and also was one the highest-paid models last year (Forbes reports she earned $4.5 million in 2015) — not only likes walking the catwalk, but sitting beside it as well. From Tory Burch in New York to Burberry in London to Fendi in Milan to Louis Vuitton in Paris, she’s one of the few guests who guarantees a flawless photo entering and leaving a show.
Formerly an editor at Harper’s Bazaar China, Li is now one of China’s most in-demand celebrity stylists (Fan BingBing is among one of her clients) and also the founder of Street Style, an interactive community for Chinese fashion and celebrities. Tall and lean with and long locks, Hui has the ability to rock just about any look with elegance and swagger like a bonafide model, as evidenced by her appearances at Ferragamo, Stella McCartney and Chloe.
Though the Korean actress — who had a small role in the Wachowski brothers' Jupiter Ascending and thus has started making inroads into Hollywood — has been a fixture at past Louis Vuitton shows, Bae was noticeably absent this season due to her intense work schedule. But no worries. You’ll be seeing more of the chic, understated beauty in the near future, and that’s because Nicolas Ghesquière, Louis Vuitton’s creative director, chose Bae to be the face of his newest ad campaign. (Past brand ambassadors included Oscar-winning actresses Jennifer Connelly and Alicia Vikander.)
While much isn’t known about her past, we can safely say that Japanese model and Instagram darling Meg Baby has a style all her own: quirky, colorful, and irreverent. And it’s adored by her nearly 800,000 followers on Instagram and the fashion community alike. In fact, for his most recent show in Paris, Jeremy Scott of Moschino invited Meg Baby as a front-row guest, and dressed her in a wacky one-shoulder “caution tape” dress.